Beezie Madden on Staying Fit and Not Slowing Down

Beezie Madden took home Olympic gold from the 2004 and 2008 games in the sport of team jumping. This time, however, the world champion, now 48, left the games empty-handed. When MORE caught up with the superstar equestrian in London, she promised that we haven’t seen the last of her and her four-legged partner. Read the edited version of our interview with her

by Ilyssa Panitz • More.com Celebrity Reporter
Photograph: Shannon Brinkman/USEF

More: Congratulations on making the Olympics.
Beezie Madden: Thank you.

More: I am sorry it didn’t turn out the way you hoped it would.
BM: Me too. We were a little spoiled because at the last two Olympics we went home with medals. This time, however, things were a little different.

More: While most athletes have control over their performance, in your sport a lot depends on the horse. Does that give you anxiety before a big competition?
BM: For sure. That is part of the sport. This is where experience plays a key role, because you need to have the proper training to foresee how the horse is going to react. I try to bring out the horse's strengths and try to diminish any weakness the horse might have. There is no perfect horse. If there were, it would be too easy.

More: Unfortunately, in your case your horse did not perform the way you wanted and you lost your chance for a gold medal?
BM: Yeah. The first day we had a problem with a combination and I was basically eliminated for it. But we did go on to perform and received good scores for the team on the other two days.

More: How does that make you feel, knowing something else holds your fate?
BM: Not great, but it basically put me out of the individual final, so I am finished for this Olympics. My goal now needs to be a team goal.

More: Some people who are watching this on TV may think, is she mad at her horse?
BM: I made a bit of a mistake too, and possibly in preparation as well.  I very rarely blame it on the horse. They do so many amazing things for us all the time, so it is hard to pass blame on them. It is important to note that it is the rider’s job to get the horse there in the best frame of mind and prepare the horse to perform well.

More: You still qualify as a champion and you aren’t some 20-year-old kid. You are almost 50, and fabulous.
BM: We can compete in a sport where that is normal. Most people in my sport are at least in their thirties and some are even older than 50.

More: So age is an advantage and not a disadvantage?
BM: You need a lot of experience in my sport to do well so, yes, age is an advantage. You need a lot of skills, and by this I don't mean just competing with your horse inside the ring. You also need to find private sponsors who can support you. I feel so fortunate that I have been able to work with Ariat for years. You also need to find the right horse and then train it for at least five years before a big event such as the Olympics.
More: Do you find yourself training harder to keep up with the younger athletes, or is it the other way around?
BM: Sure, you worry a little more about your physical appearance as you get older, but because I do so much riding all of the time it keeps me just as fit as anyone out there.

More: What is your exercise and diet routine for staying so fit?
BM: I eat healthy. I don’t follow a strict diet because I travel about 330 days a year. When you are on the road you have to make do with what you have. But I always look for the healthy choices. As for exercise, I ride up to six times a week, and depending on my schedule I go either early in the morning or at night for a workout. During the months I am in Wellington, Florida, there is a trainer I work with three days a week.

More: Is finding the right horse like finding a husband? Do you have to sift through a lot of them until you find the perfect one for you?
BM: (Laughs) Oh yeah. We travel all over the world and have people looking all over the place for that perfect young horse. When a scout says, Come look at this one, I think we buy maybe one out of 20 that we meet. However, not every relationship works out. Maybe two out of ten relationships work out and then make it to a high-level competition such as the Olympics.

More: Even though you didn’t win a medal, do you still feel like a kid, going to the Olympics?
BM: Age is a state of mind. The worst thing you can do is not stay active.

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